The Top Five 3-4 Defensive Ends in the 2016 NFL Draft

The 2015 NFL Draft was loaded with pass rushers and wide receivers. This year one of the strongest positions in the Draft is defensive tackles. Many of these players have position versatility and can play inside in a 4-3 or play end in a 3-4 scheme. The following I feel will be looked at first as 3-4 defensive ends but certainly will get a strong look from the 4-3 clubs. Deforest Buckner – Oregon Buckner is a player who has shown improvement every year he has been in the Oregon program. He has great size to go along with long arms and very good overall athleticism. His biggest improvement this year was with his pass rush skills where he has learned to use his hands better and does a god job setting up his opponent with multiple moves. In the run game he can control blockers at the line of scrimmage, find the ball and make the play. He could very well be the first defensive lineman to come off the board next month in Chicago. A’Shawn Robinson – Alabama Robinson is a third year junior who entered the draft and is still young (21) and a bit raw but he has almost unlimited upside. He has great size with bulk and length to go alone with very good play strength. He needs to improve his pass rush skills but the talent is there. He has the skill set to become a dominant NFL defensive lineman after a period of adjustment.  Will most likely get drafted in the top 15. Robert Nkemdiche – Mississippi Just looking at his natural talent and skill set to be a top 5 type of pick. That won’t happen because he doesn’t always play up to his talent level and has had some off field issues. Athletically he compares favorably to any player in this group. When you look at his skill set, you see a player that should have a high number of sacks, yet he finished his career with only 7.0. The team that drafts him could get a player who could be a perennial Pro Bowl player or a bust. Because of that risk he will get drafted later than his talent says he should. Jarran Reed – Alabama Reed might not be as athletic as some and he may not have the production numbers of some but the team that drafts him will get a very consistent hard working player who can step in and start right away. He has the versatility to play DE in a 3-4 front, NT is a 3 or 4 man front or even play as a 3-technique. He has size, strength, power and athleticism. Alabama has an abundance of defensive linemen and because of that they use their players in a rotation. Had Reed played at another school his numbers would be double what they are. He may never be a top pass rusher but at the end of the day, your team is going to be glad they have him. Chris Jones – Mississippi State Jones is a third year junior who entered the draft early. He has great size and overall athletic ability but his production numbers don’t match up to his natural skill set. He is a player that many scouts feel is on the come and we have yet to see his best football. He is said to be a great kid and he works at the game but he just hasn’t put it all together yet. Few players can match his natural size, speed, length, power and athletic ability. Because of that he will most likely go in the top half of the second round. Some analysts feel he could be drafted in the later part of the first round. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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